White Girl

LetterboxD review link

Before I went to see this, a friend said he was turned off seeing this film by the “faux edginess for the Vice generation” that he gathered from the trailer. I’ll admit, this colored my viewing of the film. Although I appreciated how gritty and grimy the whole film felt, really pulling me into the world of these characters, I had a hard time trying to get what this film was trying to get across. Is it about privilege? About Leah’s ability to traverse the world of sex and drugs with impunity in a way that Blue never can? Is it about excess? Is it about youth? Ambition? It seems to be lacking a core philosophy.

This is a complaint I have heard many people make about art made by young people. In our time, we are called millennials, I suppose. Many podcasts, articles, blogs, films, or photography made by millennials that I come across seems to be lacking a fully fledged world view, or politics, or philosophy. Instead, it opts for immersion, an explication of feelings, or just wading about in what it’s like to be the artist or the protagonist. I think this sort of art can and does have power. It is also closely related to post-modernism, the closest “era” we can attach ourselves to.

But after a while, swimming around in the horrors and excesses of Leah’s life, I start to feel cruel as a viewer. I feel cruel for barging into the life of this artist, or this character. I don’t need to feel compassion for a piece of art to work. But cruelty for cruelty’s sake, or “faux grit” as my friend put it, can also be a defeated proposition.

Maybe I’m also just over-thinking this film in particular. Made by a millennial artist, maybe all it’s supposed to be is a good story or an opportunity for me to live life as someone else for a couple of hours.